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The Ukraine War: Russia in retreat in the past week

The Ukraine War as of March 31, 2022
The Ukraine War as of March 31, 2022. Click for full map.

The Ukraine War as of April 7, 2022
The Ukraine War as of April 7, 2022. Click for full map.

In the last week the situation in the Ukraine changed quite radically. Last week there were hints that the Ukrainians were beginning to push back successfully against the Russians, but those gains appeared small and were uncertain.

These small gains in late March are indicated by the green arrows on the first map to the right, a simplified and annotated version of the map provided on March 31, 2022 by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). I strongly advise my readers to read their reports to get a fuller understanding of the overall the war situation. Anecdotal reports from either side do not tell you much.

The second map, published today by ISW and once again cropped and simplified by me to post here, shows starkly the retreat of Russian forces in the past week. The blue areas indicate regions now controlled by the Ukraine, with the arrows indicating the fast exit of Russian forces. The hatch-marked red areas surrounded by a black border are regions of the Ukraine captured by the Russians in 2014. The solid red areas are areas they captured in the past month and appear to still hold. The light red and tan areas are regions the Russians have entered but do not yet control with certainty.

The Russian effort to take the Ukraine entirely has clearly failed. Its gains after a little more than a month of battle are now shrinking. It has fled from Kiev so that the entire north and west of the country are no longer under attack. Though its military now claims Russia has finally taken central Mariupol in the south — after weeks of fighting — that capture is still not complete, with large sections of the city still outside of Russian control.

Meanwhile. the focus of the war shifts to the south and east, as both countries redeploy forces there. According to today’s ISW report:

Russian forces are cohering combat power for an intended major offensive in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in the coming days. Ukrainian civil and military officials continued to warn local residents to evacuate prior to a likely Russian offensive. Russian forces will likely attempt to regroup and redeploy units withdrawn from northeastern Ukraine to support an offensive, but these units are unlikely to enable a Russian breakthrough. Russian forces along the Izyum-Slovyansk axis [circled areas just north of Luhansk] did not make any territorial gains in the last 24 hours. Russian forces are unlikely to successfully capture Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts if Russian forces in Izyum are unable to encircle Ukrainian forces on the line of contact in eastern Ukraine.

The next week will tell us whether Russia can successfully shift its effort to this region, or whether the Ukrainian forces can push back and force more Russian retreats, possibly retaking all of Russia’s gains in the past month and even possibly pushing back into territories taken in 2014.

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  • sippin_bourbon

    There is definitely a shift in strategy. Putin was stretched logistically, and it was showing. He is not done. He likes to be unpredictable.

  • John

    Ukraine won the battle of Kyiv but the war isn’t over. They are still out gunned and out manned. Both sides will now presumable concentrate to the east and south. There isn’t much details on they type of fighting, but it seems like Ukraine’s success so far may have come against hit and run tactics against inept orcs in isolated convoys. They dynamics may change in the east.

    One thing is for certain. The civilians have to get the hell out. Leave the east and south at all costs unless you are fighting till the end. They must know what is in store for them by now.

  • Andrew_W

    Possibly the Russia’s would have been better off letting Ukraine slowly push those forces out of the north over the next few weeks, at least that would have tied down a significant portion of the Ukraine military. Now most of those Ukraine forces, in high morale, can be moved south. Those Russian forces aren’t going to want to go back into Ukraine, and if they are forced back into Ukraine they aren’t going to contribute greatly, having previously been defeated, they could even be a liability to the Russian efforts in the south.

  • Andrew_W

    The DPR acknowledge over 5,000 of their troops killed and wounded since the start of the invasion, the number of troops they started with has been assessed at 20,000. Obviously that’s an extremely high casualty rate.
    Are the Russian’s using them as cannon fodder? Are the DPR troops having to put in a disproportionate effort to drag the Russian’s forward?

  • Col Beausabre

    Hello, Questionable, where are you?

  • Col Beausabre: It is my firm belief Questioner is gone, for one of two reasons, both probable or related.

    1. His insistence, to the point of being insulting, that Russia was winning big, are now revealed to be wrong. Because he is close-minded, he does not have the ability to admit error. He is certain he is right, at all times, and if proven wrong he must avert his eyes to avoid that truth.

    2. There is a strong possibility he was a paid propagandist of the Russians, and that pay had ceased. If not, his early failed attempts to justify Hitler and justify racial bigotry, which caused me to warn him about what he said, made posting here too difficult. He knew if he started spouting his neo-Nazi/Marxist racist beliefs I would ban him, and beyond that he really didn’t have much else to say.

  • Col Beausabre

    Andrew, Maybe the DPR troops actually believe in the cause they are fighting for, as opposed to most Russian troops. I hope the Ukrainians help many more of them to make the ultimate sacrifice for their so called “country”

    Also, a pretty standard rule of the thumb is that once a unit has suffered about 30 percent losses, it has lost its combat effectiveness and needs to be pulled out of the line and rebuilt. But certain high morale units (Airborne, Marines, Commandos, Rangers, Political troops such as the SS and the Spanish Division Azul, Elite line units such as the Canadian Corps and ANZAC’s of the Great War – rated by the Germans as “The shock troops of the British Empire”) have sustained even graver combat losses and remained effective, but even they eventually reach a breaking point.

  • Col Beausabre

    Bob, if he was paid – and I agree with you that is likely – he was so extreme and inept that the Russians lost money on their investment. I hope they paid him well, it helps deplete their war chest.

  • wayne

    I’ll drop this in here, what’s past is prologue, and all:

    “The Operational Code of the Politburo”
    Nathan Constantin Leites / RAND (1951)

  • pzatchok

    If I was the Ukraine I would concentrate on the north and north east. Those are the areas of best resupply for Russia and if you stop them there and swing around the corner down to the Donetsk region you could take that back also and then everything south is only supported by ship and that supply line can be cut very easy.

    Its easier and faster to move supplies inside the circle of defense than outside the circle. Russia is at the disadvantage here.

    Last year the “Russian” groups inside the Donetsk raised their conscription age to 60. They are short of fighters. Without Russian troops and material support they will fall.

    The Ukrainian army is growing and the Russian army is shrinking.

    I can not see the Ukrainians doing anything less than taking everything back including the Donetsk and even Crimea. Crimea is unsupported except by sea. Its the best defended area but the costliest to support for the Russians.

  • Col Beausabre

    “Its easier and faster to move supplies inside the circle of defense than outside the circle.}

    The terms of art are “interior lines” and “exterior lines”

  • Andrew_W

    “If I was the Ukraine I would concentrate on the north and north east.”

    For me it would be to cut the Russian lines by driving to the Sea of Azov just West of Mariupol, then you’ve isolated the forces deployed from Crimea (Russia has placed great importance on that land bridge to Crimea), attempt to sink Russian assets in the Sea of Azov and knock out the bridge between Russia and Crimea.
    Then retake Mariupol and drive eastward, while also pushing east from Odessa against the Crimea based forces.

    Isn’t being armchair Generals fun?

  • Andrew_W

    With the UK supplying Harpoon missiles to Ukraine (I assume as coastal batteries), Ukraine would, by locating those batteries along the coast west of Mariupol, be able to target virtually the entirely of that body of water.

  • Andi

    The problem is getting them there. Isn’t Mariupol pretty well surrounded? Does Ukraine control any nearby coastline?

  • Andrew_W

    Via Poland.

  • Col Beausabre

    One thing that frustrates me is the use of the term “casualties” by the media. They seem to make that the same as “dead”. I was trained that it means total non-effectives – Killed in Action, Died of Wounds, Wounded in Action, Sick (Historically, illness has been the greatest killer of troops. My Aunt Rose was an Army Nurse in India and Burma in World War 2 and she remembered most of the troops treated by her hospital were ill (Interesting that the Hospital Commander and Chief of Nursing had both served in France in 1918 and had stayed in the Reserves during the terrible, lean inter-war years of the US Army. Think Col Sherman Potter of MASH). Many of the sick had diseases unknown to science, which were diagnosed as “Fever of Unknown Origin” and only could be treated for the symptoms. When they finally got Penicillin it was a life saver. Things were so bad that the Air Force eventually was spraying DDT over the front), Missing in Action, Deserters and Wounded or Killed by Accident.

    The difference between KIA and DOW is that the one dies on the battlefield and the other dies while under medical care.

    The term deserters may surprise some. Some of the Greatest Generation, weren’t so great. The fact of the matter is the number of deserters in Europe grew so large in WW2, that they were operating in criminal gangs raiding the supply lines in France and selling their booty on the black market. (Aided and abetted in some cases by corrupt service troops) Eisenhower ruled that any deserters captured, along with their accomplices from among the service troops, would be immediately broken to the rank of private and transferred under armed guard to the front to serve as replacements for riflemen. Particularly just since the supplies they looted meant that the units at the front did without. Let them see how they liked not getting winter clothing, waterproof boots, food, etc while risking death or mutilation. This was not nearly such a problem in the Pacific as it was much harder to blend in with the natives and the Military Police had their eyes out for stragglers and other personnel who couldn’t explain why they were where they were when interrogated. Since that time, the US military has operated in cultures so foreign that desertion was neither as attractive of feasible the ETO.

  • sippin_bourbon

    Media uses whatever buzz words and big numbers they can get away with to get clicks or views.

  • pzatchok

    Col Beausabre

    Thanks for the correction.

    Know the theory but can not always remember the correct terms.

  • pzatchok

    For me it would be to cut the Russian lines by driving to the Sea of Azov just West of Mariupol, then you’ve isolated the forces deployed from Crimea (Russia has placed great importance on that land bridge to Crimea), attempt to sink Russian assets in the Sea of Azov and knock out the bridge between Russia and Crimea.
    Then retake Mariupol and drive eastward, while also pushing east from Odessa against the Crimea based forces.

    Never place yourself between the hammer and the anvil. Pick one and throw everything you have at it.

    Once you have the Donetsk you have a coast to attack the sea from.

    Isn’t being armchair Generals fun?
    Yes it is. sometimes.

  • Andrew_W

    Swinging down clockwise from the North leaves the Russian border as you left flank, you’ll have to guard those hundreds of kilometers of border until hostilities cease, expect constant attacks. So does pushing them back to the border before attacking in the south achieve anything? Those Russian troops are still a threat from the east.

  • pzatchok

    Your stating a fact that will always be there. Has always been there.

    Don’t they also have to protect the rest of their boarder also?

    The goal is to get Russia to quit. You must break them. You must take back everything they think they own. Everything they think they have won easy.

    Just shooting at ships in the Azov sea is not enough, Russia can support Crimea from outside that little sea.

    The goal is to break Russia’s will to fight.
    The solders have been broken. Their commanders have been broken and now its Putins time to break. and he will.

  • Andrew_W

    “The goal is to get Russia to quit. You must break them. You must take back everything they think they own. Everything they think they have won easy.”

    I don’t see how that strengthens your strategy over mine.

    “Just shooting at ships in the Azov sea is not enough, Russia can support Crimea from outside that little sea.”

    A strawman, and not a very good one. Splitting the forces and being able to sink anything on the Azov is only the start, the goal is still to drive them back into Russia.
    Making it more difficult for Russia to support its forces in Crimea by reducing the easy of moving stuff there helps, reduces the effectiveness of those Crimea based forces.

    “The goal is to break Russia’s will to fight.
    The solders have been broken. Their commanders have been broken and now its Putins time to break. and he will.”

    I don’t see how that strengthens your strategy over mine.

  • sippin_bourbon

    It is stating the obvious.

    War is a test of wills.

  • Col Beausabre

    It’s occurred to me with all the damage that Russia has caused to Ukraine, the “Reparations” crowd is oddly silent. Russia should be made to pay for every kopeck of damage they have done.

  • pzatchok

    Why is it taking Russia so long to reposition its troops and equipment? Its only a few hundred miles and they have had over a week to do it.

    Their command structure must be in so much disarray that no one is willing to make a move without Putin’s direct orders.

  • sippin_bourbon

    The BBC is saying the Moskva has been sunk.
    She was being towed when she went under in heavy seas.

    She was the flagship. The Russians are not admitting the damage originated with enemy action.
    Ukraine claims 2 hits with Neptune missles.

    So take your pick:
    A: Ukraine scores a massive victory on the Black Sea.
    B: Russian Navy sinks their own flagship in fit of massive incompetence.

    Either one is not very good.
    I expect o see a headline about Putin firing an admiral or two in the next few days.
    It will also be interesting to see if that retirement comes with or without the gift of a Makarov pistol with a single round in the chamber.

    Where is wayne with his youtube clips.
    I am thinking of the scene in Enemy at the Gates, where Khrushchev relieves the general of command.

  • Cotour

    What is a big deal? This is a big deal:

    “‘On board the Moskva could be nuclear warheads – two units,’ Samus said, while Klymenko called on other Black Sea nations – Turkey, Romania, Georgia, and Bulgaria – to insist on an explanation. ‘Where are these warheads? Where were they when the ammunition exploded,’ he asked.

    Meanwhile Ilya Ponomarev, a politician exiled from Russia for opposing Putin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, said just 58 of the 510-strong crew have since been accounted for – raising the prospect that 452 men went down with the ship in what would be a bitter loss for Vladimir Putin’s already beleaguered army.”

    Questioner, where are you? We need you.

  • sippin_bourbon

    They had originally reported the ship has been evacuated. If only 58 got off before then the explosions must have been huge.

    The warheads, if they follow standard designs, should be safe from a rapid fuel rupture and burn. But I am sure they will want them back. It is considered careless to leave such things lying around.. even under water.

    The reports I saw state that her primary mission was to provide protection against smaller vessels being used to launch the kaliber missiles. They will have to fall back a bit until new protection arrives.

    I also noted that Putin railed about Ukraine attacking targets on Russian soil. What hypocrisy.

  • Cotour

    A little more reality:

    Once you go down that road you never really know where its going to lead.

  • sippin_bourbon


    You are so silly, to be giving in to such blatant western lies.

    This was all planned, you see, as you can plainly see the brilliance in Putin’s genius. The Russian Navy and the brave sailors took on this bold experiment to convert the missile boat into the new flag ship of the Black Sea Submarine fleet.

    Do not let yourself be misled by these reports in the lying western media. You will see.

  • sippin_bourbon: My gosh, you do an amazing imitation of Questioner. You must really miss him.

  • Andrew_W

    Sippin_bourbon, a counter perspective to BRICs and MINTs

    “The Price of War – Can Russia afford a long conflict?”

  • Cotour

    Real Communism is good…………………………….

  • wayne

    -not really watching the Ukraine Mini-series.

    Negativland (1999)
    “Christianity Is Stupid, Communism is Good”

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